Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning. It's a good morning because decisions, as difficult as they are and as sad – in some cases – as they are, they are liberating, and they enable us to go forward.
As we gather here on the Floor of the House right now, we are passing the INVEST in America Act, a transformative opportunity for us not only to build the infrastructure of America, but to build – rebuild – the middle class of America. It does so by putting equity front and center with necessary focus on communities of color, rural communities and regions with persistent poverty.
We're pleased that the President has come together in a bipartisan way with the United States Senate – Senators, for a bipartisan infrastructure plan. When we finish with this legislation, we look forward to continuing that conversation with them so that we can pass an infrastructure bill, as well as a reconciliation bill. That was yesterday – I mean that was – that's today.
Yesterday, we saw patriotism on display in the House when it passed the legislation to establish a Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the Capitol. It's been our hope, all of us, our hope, and the work of our distinguished Chairman, Mr. Bennie Thompson, for us to have been able to have a bipartisan Commission. It passed in the House in a bipartisan way. It got a majority vote in the Senate in a bipartisan way. But it did not get the 60 votes.
They asked for ‘another week, another week, another week, another week,’ and at the end of the last week said, ‘We can't do this until 2023.’ So, we can't wait that long. Then we went right into motion to establish the Select Committee.
As you can see, I am very proud to be able to announce the Members of that Committee this morning.
Our Chairman will be Bennie Thompson. He's Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, and he negotiated the bipartisan Commission – and we thank him for his leadership.
Chair Zoe Lofgren, House Administration Committee, which is having key hearings as the Committee of jurisdiction for the safety of the Capitol.
Intelligence being very important to this – Chair Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee.
Pete Aguilar, House Appropriations Committee. That is a Committee of jurisdiction for this, as well as being a member of the House Administration Committee.
I'm saying this in seniority order.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney of the Armed Services Committee has patriotically agreed to serve on the Committee. She has a family matter she's dealing with – may join us, depending on how long this takes. But we're very honored and proud that she has agreed to serve on the Committee.
Representative Stephanie Murphy of the Armed Services Committee. Representative Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar, as you all know – Oversight Committee. That is a committee – a major committee of jurisdiction, the Committee on Oversight, also on the Judiciary Committee, which has standing on all of this.
And then we're very proud that Elaine Luria, a Navy veteran, captain of the ship – maybe there's a more technical and better – what was the title?
Congresswoman Luria. Retired Commander.
Speaker Pelosi. Retired Commander, oh my gosh, and a Member of the Armed Services Committee. Her interest in this is longstanding in the Congress. She is also a member of the Homeland Security Committee.
Now, I just wanted to read the bill. Does somebody have the bill?
It's really important for you all to know what our purpose is for this, and that is that the findings of the legislation speak to the testimony of the Director of the FBI when he basically said there were more deaths from domestic terrorism than from global terrorism in our country in the previous year. Testimony from the Department of Homeland Security about concerns that are out there, all of these institutions talking about – well, I hate to even go there, but it's what they have said, in terms of white supremacy, antisemitism, Islamophobia, all of these attitudes that have well contributed to what happened on January 6th. And so that is our purpose.
Do we have – you can go to Speaker.gov to read the findings which establish the purpose of what we are setting out to do to make sure that this never happens again. I just put out a press release, so you have the names of the Members on the Committee. Again, it was our hope that we could have done this with a bipartisan, outside Commission. Maybe one day that will be possible.
It took fourteen and a half months for the 9/11 Commission to be signed into law. Perhaps this is on the horizon. But in the meantime then – and in the meantime now, it's going to be a Congressional investigation. Then, I happened to be a Co‑Chair of that investigation. It was bipartisan and bicameral. As you can see, it might be hard to do bicameral since they limit the investigation on their side as to what we can look into.
But I'm very proud. And as I say, decisions are liberating. They enable you to go to the next step. And the next step for us has always been to seek and to find the truth. We want to do so in the most patriotic and nonpartisan way so the American people have confidence in the results.
Now, it's my pleasure to yield, and as I announce the Chairmanship of this Committee – to be the Chairman, Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, a person who has fought such a long time to call to the attention of the American people the issue of domestic terrorism. We're very proud of his service and his leadership on that Committee and very honored that he has agreed to serve as the Chair of the Select Committee.
Chairman Thompson. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I thank you for your steadfast commitment to getting to the truth behind the January 6th domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol.
Next week will mark six months since the world watched in horror as Americans violently stormed the citadel of our democracy to try and stop Congress from carrying out our Constitutional duties to certify a Presidential election.
Over the last six months, at every turn, you've been laser‑focused on doing whatever it takes to get to the bottom and deliver the truth for the American people. You met Republicans more than halfway in an effort to stand up in a bipartisan, independent Commission.
The reason I say that is, I participated in negotiating what was to be negotiated, and you did a good job, I thought, from the standpoint. It should have been approved. We passed it in the House. Unfortunately, we could not get the Senate to do likewise.
So, we come to where we are today, your choice of this Select Committee and the approval by the House in doing so and the membership behind me. We'll do our job. We'll do it according to the oath we took as Members of Congress. But more importantly, we have to get to the bottom of finding out all the things that went wrong on January 6th.
I look forward to working with the Members of the Select Committee, both Democrats and Republicans. I chair the House Homeland Security Committee. We have the reputation as being one of the more bipartisan committees in Congress, and that's because we work hard at it. I look forward to coming up with the causes and effect. It will come in due time. I can't give it a timeline. We'll let the facts help determine how long we'll meet. But I assure you that the product will be a product based on investigation, based on what those investigations bring forth. And there's nothing sacrosanct in this review that won't be brought out in the end.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you so much.
* * *
Speaker Pelosi. Any questions?
No? No questions?
We anticipated them all. Okay.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, sir?
Q: House Minority Leader McCarthy –
Speaker Pelosi. I'm not responding to him. We're making our presentation here. Go ask him about what he says, okay?
Q: – to accept your appointment to the Committee.
Speaker Pelosi. I'm sorry what?
Q: McCarthy said he would strip the committee assignments of Republicans who take your appointment.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, don't – that's not – that's a matter for the Republican Caucus.
We are full of responsibility and duty and patriotism and almost joy as we go into the Fourth of July weekend, as we observe the birth of our nation, that we are committed to doing something that honors the vision of our founders.
It's going to be a high level – and it's going to justify the support of the American people. It's not political, so I'm not getting involved in any discussion of what goes on in the Republican Caucus.
Any other questions?
Q: Madam Speaker, Congresswoman Cheney is going to serve. You said you have appointed her.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Q: Can you walk us through what that conversation was like, why she said yes to you, what you asked of her?
Speaker Pelosi. The conversation resembled Congresswoman Cheney's public statements. And, by the way, I saw your, this morning – this is not about some of the things you had there. It's about what is in the bill as to what our purpose is.
Our purpose is not any phone call that McCarthy made or something like that. It's about protecting our country from the negative forces that provoked that attack on the Capitol.
Q: May I follow up with a separate question very quickly? Earlier this week, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was on our –
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let's stay with this, and I'll answer that afterward. But we have some of the best leaders in the Congress on this subject, and I'm sure they would be happy to answer any questions you have.
What do you have today?
Q: Madam Speaker, I'm going to ask if you would like to see former President Trump testify before the Committee and if there's a chance that the Committee will subpoena him?
Speaker Pelosi. The Committee – I have made the appointments, the Committee will make its decisions, and we look forward to the Republicans making their appointments to the Committee so they can be part of those decisions.
Q: Chair Thompson, I just wanted to ask you about – and, Madam Speaker – about the importance of McCarthy's conversation with President Trump –
Speaker Pelosi. I'm not going into that now. The Committee will establish, working with staff, what the priority of timing is on how we go forward. We're not having that discussion right here now in this room.
Q: When do you anticipate getting started? I mean, McCarthy could choose his – I mean, are you going to wait for him to choose his people or are you going to –
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we'd hope that they would choose them expeditiously.
Q: But if they don't?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we have a quorum.
Q: You have a –
Speaker Pelosi. Quorum.
Q: Quorum, okay.
Speaker Pelosi. Let me go back to the purpose, because your presentation this morning reminded me that we probably have to remind people what the purpose of this is.
‘Whereas on January 6, 2021, was one of the darkest days of our democracy, during which insurrectionists attempted to impede Congress's Constitutional mandate to validate the Presidential election –’
This is something that is very important to all of our Members, including, I might be able to say, because she's said it publicly, Congresswoman Cheney, the peaceful transfer of power. It is a hallmark of democracies.
And then the Department of Homeland Security issued on January 27th a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin calling to our attention the need to act so that this doesn't happen again, because there are ‘perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.’ And then, of course, the threats of violence, again, that I referenced from the Director of the FBI. It goes on and on. But I think it's really important. Speaker.gov, if you go there, you go here, you'll have a clear path.
On any of these, questions to any of our – Zoe, being the Chair of the [House Administration] Committee, do you want to say anything about how we will protect the –
Chair Lofgren. Well, the House Administration Committee has held a series of hearings, primarily with the inspector generals, looking at deficiencies in the management of the Capitol Police. And, unfortunately, we found many.
But that's not about what spurred the attack; that's about the response. The fact that there were deficiencies in the management of the Capitol Police didn't cause the riot.
So, we will make sure that the interim steps to be more safe at the Capitol continue, but it's not a substitute for finding out what happened here. What caused a mob of Americans to think that they were somehow supporting the Constitution when they tried to disrupt the Constitutional process of counting the Electoral College votes? Who paid for it? How was it organized? We need to find that out to keep the country safe.
I thank you, Madam Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.
In terms of the Capitol Police, they saved our lives. We'll be forever grateful to them. They enabled us to return so that we could honor our Constitutional responsibility – prescribed in the Constitution as January 6th. Not just any day did they have their, as the Republicans describe it, ‘normal tourist day in the Capitol.’ No. It was a date prescribed in the Constitution. They came to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. And how could the Capitol Police ever suspect that the President of the United States would incite an insurrection? So, we want to support them.
We want to shore up any shortcomings, not only personally but also physically for the Capitol. But let us always salute them for what we've done, and I'm – they did – and I'm so glad that in both Houses we have voted a Gold Medal to salute their courage.
Intelligence has been a very important part of all this. Mr. Schiff, did you have something that you wanted to say?
Chairman Schiff. Thank you, Madam Speaker. We know that there was intelligence collected prior to the attack, and we know that there was intelligence that was not collected that was available to help law enforcement identify in far greater depth and detail the danger to the Capitol that day. Why that intelligence wasn't gathered, whether the intelligence that was gathered was appropriately shared, whether that intelligence was acted upon – these are just some of the questions that we have been looking at in the Intelligence Committee, but frankly have not been able to get sufficient answers. And it's certainly my hope and expectation that with the specific focus on the events of January 6th of the Select Committee, with a staff dedicated to that purpose, to uncovering why didn't we see this coming, what kind of advance warning did we have, should we have had, what are the appropriate mechanisms that law enforcement can use to identify when there's a threat to the nation's Capitol and how that information can be shared. It's my hope that through our efforts we can get those answers and put additional pressure as needed on the agencies to be forthcoming with that information so that we can prepare for the future.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Schiff. Mr. Aguilar serves on two committees of jurisdiction: the Appropriations Committee and House Administration Committee. Did you want to share some thoughts about how you see?
Congressman Aguilar. Thank you, Madam Speaker, and I just wanted to underscore that the focus of this is on seeking the truth. The focus is on making sure that the American public understands the threat to democracy that took place on January 6th, but there were real people affected by those actions: 140 Capitol Police officers injured. Some of them permanently that day. Five people lost their lives. Staffers were barricaded here in the Capitol. Members were affected. Everyone touched by January 6th deserves to find the truth of what transpired, what led up to it and how we can protect our democracy moving forward. So, I'm honored to be part of this group. I look forward to Chairman Thompson's leadership and with working with my colleagues. Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi. I want them to self‑introduce so that you hear more from them than from me.
Congresswoman Murphy. I'm Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, and I fled a country where political violence was how political transitions were made. And I have never lived a day in this country where I haven't been proud to live in a democracy, to have the freedoms that this country offers. But I also understand I have a responsibility to protect our democracy. And so it broke my heart to be in this building on January 6th and see the kind of political violence that occurred in the country I fled, and in countries that I worked on when I was at the Department of Defense, happening here in our country. And so I look forward to executing my responsibility on this Committee, to understand fully exactly what happened on January 6th, what is motivating domestic terrorism and how we build a better whole‑of‑government approach to addressing domestic terrorism and how we secure the citadel of democracy here at this Capitol. Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi. I'm so proud of Stephanie Murphy's patriotism. She came to America as a boat — baby from Vietnam, and she's always talked about how much her family appreciates America. And she, of course, has served our country very well in the Department of Defense, now in the Congress of the United States, but her story is one that is the American Dream many times over.
I now want to yield to the distinguished – no stranger to any of you, because he serves on so many committees of jurisdiction in this regard: Judiciary, House Administration and COR, the Committee on Oversight. Mr. Jamie Raskin.
Congressman Raskin. Madam Speaker, thank you very much. Mr. Chairman. The Oversight Committee has been conducting for several years now an investigation into violent white supremacy. The Department of Homeland Security has declared domestic, violent extremism the number one security threat in the country, and we saw that threat explode right in front of us on January the 6th. So the impeachment trial of Donald Trump determined, I think, by robust bipartisan, bicameral majorities, who incited the violence on January 6th, but we need to figure out who organized the violence on January 6th, how did they organize it and why did they organize it. What were the purposes of the different critical actors who were present on that day? That's why this investigation is critical for every American, living and as yet unborn, because we need to defend our democracy with everything that we've got. And so it's a great honor to be able to serve on the Select Committee under Chairman Thompson and with these wonderful colleagues. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. Now a title that very few in the Congress have a right to, but we're very proud that Elaine Luria has decided to serve in Congress. Commander Elaine Luria.
Congresswoman Luria. Well, thank you, Madam Speaker. I stand here today as someone who served two decades in uniform. The first time that I took the oath to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, I was seventeen years old entering the Naval Academy, and I never thought that fast‑forwarding to today I would be standing here serving in this capacity, looking into why we had a violent mob attack our Capitol: the process of a smooth transition of government.
And like all of my colleagues here have said, we have to get to the bottom of this, and this can't be a partisan thing. I think back to my time on many deployments. I had one aircraft carrier deployment to the Middle East, and we're simultaneously launching strikes against terrorist targets in Iraq and Afghanistan – foreign terrorist targets. But one thing about serving in the military is that we don't ask about political party. It's not about partisanship. I didn't turn to the sailor next to me operating the nuclear reactors and say, ‘Are you a Democrat?’, ‘Are you a Republican?’ Truly, it was about accomplishing a mission, and I hope that this Committee can come together, can accomplish that mission together, and we can leave behind any of that veil of partisanship at the door – because these are answers that the American people need and deserve about why this happened in our country. And getting to the bottom of it is really the first step in making sure that it can't happen again.
So, thank you to Madam Speaker for appointing me to this Committee, and I look forward to working with my colleagues.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you so much. I've been informed that we have four minutes left in the INVEST Act. We're very proud of that legislation. That's part of our purpose here to do good things For The People. I just wanted to say how proud I am of this Select Committee. So glad that Bennie Thompson will be leading it for us and so glad that it will be bipartisan from the start.
We're proud that Lynne Cheney has made the public – excuse me – Liz Cheney has made the public statements that she has made and that she has agreed to join the Committee. Another time she will say her why and her purpose. But she has spoken very clearly about the Committee, and that gives us great confidence that we'll be able to work in a nonpartisan way For The People.
And as we go into the Fourth of July, with great pride in the fact that we will be closer to the truth because of the willingness of such a distinguished group to take this responsibility.
Thank you all very much.